Tom Furest, teaching pastor at The Table, was recently awarded a grant by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW). This grant is one of 33 worship renewal projects awarded by CICW for 2017-2018 as part of its Vital Worship Grants Program.
These projects have a variety of emphases—visual arts, storytelling, music, preaching, contemplation and more—but have as a common purpose a desire to both deepen people’s understanding of worship and strengthen practices of public worship and faith formation.
Each grant will fund a year-long project (beginning in June) that promotes vital worship and faith formation.
The inspiration for Tom’s grant proposal came after reading how Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg participated in Jewish grief liturgies to engage her grief for 30 days after the unexpected death of her husband.
“After reading that, I thought, ‘I don’t have anything like that to give to someone,’” Tom said. “I want to build something the Christian community doesn’t have in contemporary form.”
Tom plans to create a 40-day grief workbook that will include daily devotionals, liturgies, written prayers and opportunities for journaling that pastors and grief counselors can give to someone on the first day they experience trauma.
The workbook will address the psychological and spiritual needs of people as they process their grief and also connect individual grief with the larger grief of people everywhere. Since people can process more on day 40 than day one, the workbook will get more complex and involved as it goes along.
Because one danger is for people to be isolated in their grief, the workbook also will include six public lament services for people to come together as a form of worship.
“By putting liturgies of lament in the scriptures, I believe God has sanctified our anger for Him and given us an avenue to worship Him,” Tom said. “I want to show people that it’s OK to take their authentic grief to God. This isn’t going to fix it, but maybe it can help them heal—even from day one.”